Public House or Public Library ?

Anybody out there prefer a quality drinking pub to the raft of food pubs ? After going in a few pubs in a matter of days – a simple thing struck me. Quietness….. and I immediately had a pang of retro sorrow. I realise one’s memory tends to remember what it wants – but in my early days of working in and out of pubs I don’t recall such quiet. Yes – when there was no one in the pub it was quiet. (maybe the jukebox was playing music) but the strange thing in many modern day pubs is even when there are a good few punters present they are all in whispered conversations , like a library ….is it because they  were all there for the eating ?

There are good eating pubs – and there are pubs that are trying to be eating pubs.  But when I go to a pub I don’t really want to hear chomp chomp chomp of munching on a tepid lasagne and the clicking of slightly dirty fighting irons. I want to hear laughter – appraisal of the latest soap story – disagreements about whether it was offside or not or the benefits of a state school education. This is more rare in a food pub – people are to busy moving starch around a plate & then sup up the glass of water and off. If the lunch is with working people a fast getaway is necessary in case someone is tempted to have an alcoholic drink ! Its also hard not to notice the average age in these eateries at lunchtime is over 70 yrs. I am confident the beneficiaries of the golden age of the pension payment won’t be around when I come to retire and who will use the pubs at lunchtime then ?

How life has changed – my past life came flooding back to me – in the 80’s but everybody went to the pub at midday – or at least on Fridays they did. Did the work suffer ? Were the staff more miserable ? The best food on display was a cheese /& onion or ham roll – if you were lucky you could get a warm Ginsters pie. The food was inconsequential – it was beer soak up. I’m not contradicting Fiona Stapley of the Good Food Guide – there were some terribly dirty, badly run 80s pubs – and in 2013 that can’t be sustained. Places need to be clean – warm – and welcoming, but I didn’t see anything welcoming in my recent visits. It was generic, missing of an atmosphere and the landlord was absent.

“What about the kids pubs” I hear you shout – yes of course – there many child friendly pubs and they are the antithesis of the quiet pub. Screaming – crying – running around. More like a generic wedding party than my memory’s “real” pub.

I am not advocating the rejection of these types of establishment,  I just long for an Adult pub – catering for the entertainment of adults, catering for drinkers, promoting fun, letting your hair down, relieving the days stress. You don’t need to binge  i.e. save up the drinking for one enormous “session”.  Just have  a simple unwinding beer, a chillout,  a mellow moment. I feel this is where pubs have changed.  So for me lets support the drinking pubs a little more. If figures are to be believed  ( ) theres 26 pubs closing each week and new openings are more of the eatery.  CAMRA have advocated every beer goer should drink just one pint extra per month to slow this decline. If you want to keep pubs pubs see how you can help (Protecting the pub, )

I fear this pub of my early working life, that I cherish is now frowned upon – even if the smoking ban was repealed and drink driving was avoided – people think we have moved on. Maybe I haven’t.

So reminisces over,  I’ll go back to my tablet book and Nespresso coffee. (even as I write the libraries are also struggling to keep open – though not 26 a week)


Breaking up with Breaking Bad

Boo hoo just watched episode 14 …. It’s all about to end. Vince Gilligan will be lost for words-or go back to his Island.  Bryan Cranston will do about ten shit films and star in a small theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing. We might be lucky and Anna Gunn might go to San Diego to make Milf pornos. Whatever the future, one thing is certain, the end will be gut wrenching. I watched enthralled as the reel played out, one remarkable happening after the other. Didn’t see that coming…didn’t think they’d do that to him… Can’t believe she’s fallen for that. .. Never realised he was that thoughtful… How did they make Jessie’s make up look so real? Heart strings pulled, Hank yanked, and cute baby to end it all…what a pre penultimate gem. ( and no Spoilers!!)


Homeland Season 3

I’ve got to say – Damian Lewis‘ comments in the new series of Top Gear (Series 19 Ep 1) aired 27th Jan showed some insight into the script strategy of the Homeland writers.Image

He says after Clarkson asks how it ends – “I don’t know how it ends because THEY don’t know how it ends”and “The headache of me being alive – they’ve got to work out what to do with me”.

I do hope I’m not right in my earlier blog on Season 2…I prayed it wouldn’t be like the 4th/5th seasons of “LOST” and get more and more ridiculous – but I fear Homeland will err this way.

I still hold out hope that there will be some redeeming storyline but…..

Its not just me that finds it increasingly easy to poke fun at what was a brilliant first season  – see the SNL clip I was pointed there today and found Anne Hathaway‘s “rendition” of Carrie very well-played. Excellent stuff.

Apologies Mr Obama – you may find your support of this drama is more difficult to sustain than the position on Medicare in your second term.


Zero Dark Thirty deserving comment (spoilers)

Glued for over 2 and a half hours. Felt equally like strong fiction and a historic story. Dan  (Jason Clarke – he of of  “The Chicago Code” ) plays a high level CIA agent at the crux of the most controversial scenes where torture is ” routinely” carried out. The concerns of the waiting world are somewhat wasted for me…there is depiction of the famous “waterboarding” acts (always seemed a light word to me for something obviously so cruel – like snowboarding!)- is it glorifying ? No – is it the central theme ? No – does it prove to be the clue to OBL whereabouts? Maybe. But surely these type of events happened – seems right to show it – in spite or because of political angles. The reporting in 2007 that the CIA did carry out  this technique in early 2000 is widely documented. Surely its fare game for the filmmakers?

It was apparent to me there were two stories for the price of one. The first is of a young CIA agent , Maya’s (Jessica Chastain of  the recent “Lawless” and “The Debt’) obsession with finding OBL. Her character was similar to “Homelands ” Carrie – without the cutsie love angle – this broad is seriously focussed – 10 years of focus. After her early introduction and repugnation to torture under  Dan she has no qualms to re acquire the skills when she needs further information from captives in latter years.

IMG_0601 Does Maya exist in whole or in many? There is a rumour she is based on an actual individual – if she is half as dedicated as the screen persona – she needs a medal – or a political position!

There is a huge cast list with cameos by James Gandolfini and even John Barrowman. The story is well told – and describes the frustrations and blind alleys brilliantly.

The second  part of the film centres around the discovery / the politics and the SEALS  raid.

I loved the duelling of the Chiefs when they were deciding to go or not to go – the head of NSA  states this was riskier than when the CIA boss’ predecessor told them to go for the WMD’s in Iraq. Loved that line.How cool are the”fictional stealth H60s? Do they really exist? Though for me when they arrived at the compound in Abbotabad … They were a lot noisier than I felt “stealth” was meant to be ( radar eluding aside)

The helo action was boys own stuff is in the style of  “Act of Valour 2012 “- loads of military tech – heart bursting door entries and 2 x short sharp shots to the head.


OBL’s death was treated with a certain degree of taste – heard today Columbia Pictures aren’t releasing it in Pakistan (for the mo?)

The director Kathryn Bigelow is obviously out of the running for  a directorial Oscar (solace is she did get one for “The Hurt Locker” ) due to the controversy of the torture- but does some amazing work on this film in giving us a contemporary action movie – and a political thriller all rolled into a a tense, detailed cinematic dream that you end up wondering what was real and what was the storytelling?

You want to watch it ? Course …I knew the ending and loved it anyways.


The Pain of RVP

This is looking like a theme in my crisp, new blog…..

I mentally do not see RVP as a Manchester Utd player.

I need closure…but everytime I nearly get it – he does what he does (score the best and most important goals)


Now he cements West Ham’s Cup hopes in a concrete boot – to be dragged from East London and to be buried at Old Trafford. Can’t see United losing in Manchester – but if RVP has his way – he’ll punish and mutilate as well.

I know Arsenal wouldn’t and ?couldn’t? pay him what he wanted and probably deserved –

I know Arsenal would not give him the best chance of winning “stuff”

I know in Arsenal he wouldn’t be “surrounded by champions” or they would spend enough to bring in the guys they need to win trophies –

BUT I still don’t like it.

I have to believe that some day the pain will end – but at the moment – the pain continues.


Homeland Season 2


Was I the only sad soul who thought the last season of Homeland was degenerating into a bad version of LOST 5?

If the writers rescue this brand now for series 3, I will be amazed at their  wizardry. I was getting suspicious of where the series was going when Brodie “came out” as a terrorist  – but earlier in Episode 3 “State Of Independence” I was sitting in my lounge incredulous that any scheming terrorist would send a perfect presidential “mole” like Brodie – to pick up a terrorist bomb maker and risk his cover to only, accidentally, kill him in a wood.

The blooming love affair with Carrie the CIA agent was becoming more laughable by the Episode – a more romantic cabin I haven’t seen since the Waltons. Don’t get me wrong Claire Danes is beautiful (IMO) and congrats on the baby by the way.


There was a little drama when Brodie was uncovered as a terrorist – but at the interrogation and when the hand stab happened I actually blurted out “bollox!”.

I’m not going to fully describe the horror of the season finale – but suffice to say Armageddon – and more false twists than a 50’s Rock and Roll dancer. The miracle that was Carrie’s return to the body count room – and the look on Saul’s face could only be scripted by a Coronation Street writer.

I will watch the 3rd Series – if only because I need to know how they are going to rescue the credibility of this Obama endorsed TV show.


Bradford v Arsenal in retrospect

It is embarrassing being an Arsenal supporter at the moment. The painful emotion I felt when RVP put that injury time winning freekick in against Man City was gut wrenching. Like the lost love of a memorable girlfriend seen out kissing with her new guy. Would RVP had stayed if offered big money? I feel he also needed comfort there were big signings coming and wasn’t convinced – now he is the Prems most reliable striker and top scorer (Michu aside). He knew the passion to be great – wasn’t there. We all sense Arsenal lack that strategic passion – passion borne out of driven ambition – sense of pride and will to win. That passion seems missing from both the team and management. What happens in training ? Why do we apparently play many players out of position? What does Arsene see in players that supporters don’t? If he gets results Arsene can do what he wants – but if he doesn’t – and 7 and a half years is 7 years to long in my book-  you have to question decisions and policy. The worst decision this season for me was to play the senior squad in the Bradford game.. signaling intent but pressurizing a team that don’t react well to pressure – A lack of, quality (evident as they were unable to break down a resolute Bradford defence) or bottle to score their penalties.

Arsene to step down ? He deserves praise for the past but also deserves the current level of criticism. Arsenal fans need a replacement and policy that resolves all the issues – or Arsene may as well stay.